In a Back to the Future Vaticano style, the PM has whispered in a new attempt to force religion into our schools. No-one cares if the private educational systems have chaplains to administer to their flocks. It has been the case since the year dot and will always be the case. But the push into the public school system, rejected the last time it was proposed, is another thing altogether. And if it is at the expense of the school counsellor system then it is a very dangerous thing to embrace.
Chaplains are not counsellors. They are clerics who propound their faiths and counsel along the religious doctrines of those faiths. They find solutions to problems presented to them within their “holy” books. Fine if that’s the way you want your goose cooked but not for me.
Chaplains do a fine job within religious parishes and schools, hospices and the like. But do they replace the qualified and experienced school counsellors? No they don’t.
Are they trained and qualified to speak to students about personal image issues, the challenge of sexual awareness, difficulties with parents or siblings, alcoholism or drug abuse? I think maybe not. The most dangerous thing in the world is guidance delivered by well-meaning amateurs. Let Chaplains do what they do best, interface between the faithful and their deity. Leave social wellness to the experts.
Tony Abbot is pushing his religiosity too far. Some questions for the president of the George Pell fan club. What if a school doesn’t want a chaplain? No money? Will a school be able to have both chaplains and counsellors? Will all faiths be catered for in all schools and how? Where are you going to get Buddhist or Hindu counsellors? Will each school have multiple chaplains catering for a multitude of faiths? Will the federal government dictate which religions can have chaplains operating in the public system and what it is that they provide?
$245 million is a lot of money for a system no one asked for and most people reject. How about Mr Abbott gives this loony idea away and gives the $245 million to assist struggling families suffering from his onslaught onto their basic quality of life?
Former ACT Minister and MLA